371 U.S. 178 (1962), 41, Foman v. Davis

Docket Nº:No. 41
Citation:371 U.S. 178, 83 S.Ct. 227, 9 L.Ed.2d 222
Party Name:Foman v. Davis
Case Date:December 03, 1962
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 178

371 U.S. 178 (1962)

83 S.Ct. 227, 9 L.Ed.2d 222




No. 41

United States Supreme Court

Dec. 3, 1962

Argued November 14, 1962




A Federal District Court dismissed petitioner's complaint in a civil action for failure to state a claim upon which relief might be granted. Petitioner promptly moved to vacate the judgment and amend the complaint so as to state an alternative theory for recovery. Before the Court ruled on those motions, petitioner filed notice of appeal from the judgment of dismissal. Subsequently, the District Court denied the motions to vacate the judgment and to amend the complaint, and petitioner filed notice of appeal from that denial. On appeal, the parties briefed and argued the merits of both the dismissal of the complaint and the denial of petitioner's motions. The Court of Appeals treated the first notice of appeal as premature, because of the then pending motion to vacate, and it dismissed that appeal. It held that the second notice of appeal was ineffective to review the judgment of dismissal, because it failed to specify that the appeal was from that judgment, and it affirmed denial of petitioner's motions, on the ground that there was nothing in the record to support a finding that the District Court had abused its discretion in refusing to allow amendment of the complaint.


1. On the record in this case, the Court of Appeals erred in narrowly reading the second notice of appeal as applying only to the denial of petitioner's motions, since petitioner's intention to seek review of both the dismissal of the complaint and the denial of her motions was manifest from the record as a whole. Pp. 181-182.

2. The Court of Appeals also erred in affirming the District Court's denial of petitioner's motion to vacate the judgment of dismissal in order to allow amendment of the complaint, since it appears from the record that the amendment would have done no more than state an alternative theory of recovery, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) declares that leave to amend "shall be freely given when justice so requires," and denial of the motion without any apparent justifying reason was an abuse of discretion. P. 182.

292 F.2d 85 reversed.

Page 179

GOLDBERG, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE GOLDBERG delivered the opinion of the Court.

Petitioner filed a complaint in the District Court alleging that, in exchange for petitioner's promise to care for and support her mother, petitioner's father had agreed not to make a will, thereby assuring petitioner of an intestate share of the father's estate; it was further alleged that petitioner had fully performed her obligations under the oral agreement, but that, contrary thereto, the...

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